Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bonaire Gas Price Up

Gasoline (there's only one kind now) went up in price a week ago. Usually I hear about it and fill the car up ahead of time, but we missed this one. We don't drive much so its not that big a deal.
I checked out the new price today. Gas works out to $4.59 a gallon now. Compared to some places in the world, that's inexpensive. Compared to where I grew up though, its pretty pricy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Earliest Sunset is History

Yes!! The earliest sunset of 2009 is history, and the evenings are getting longer. According to data from the weather station at the Bonaire airport, the earliest sunset was on Tuesday or Wednesday. The Sun sets a whole second later tonight. Yippie!

It has been hard to squeeze in those after work bike rides before it gets dark, but it will be getting easier starting today. The total daylight hours in each day is still decreasing until the shortest day around Dec. 21. The sunrises are still getting later and later each day and that counters the later sunsets in the evening. The latest sun rise here on Bonaire comes around January 24 or so.

If you live further North (in the northern hemisphere) the earliest sunset occurs closer to the shortest day on Dec. 21. For example, in northern New Jersey, where I lived as a kid, the earliest sunset occurs around Dec. 8, more than two weeks from now.
Believe it or not, I first noticed this phenomenon by chance, many years ago during my daily after work bike rides. My goal has always been to be back home by sunset, and I had a pretty good feel for just how hard I had to ride to get home on time. One year I suddenly noticed that the sun seemed to be setting distinctly later the first week of December than it had in November. That got me curious.

There was no Internet, back in those pre-historic days, so the next year I observed every
sunset that I could (we lived on the sea side back then) and recorded the times on a calendar. Lo and behold, the earliest sunset was indeed in late November here on Bonaire.

The next step was to simulate the sunset on an early computer planetarium program called SkyGlobe. This shareware program came in the mail on a 5 1/4" floppy disk. The simulated sunsets matched well with my observed sunsets. I've since checked this sunset timing thing out on a number of Web sites. One year I even printed up a set of calendars with the sunrise and sunset times for every day of the year. (It doesn't take much to amuse us, here on our little desert island.)

Most of the Web sites round off the sunset and sunrise times to the nearest minute. The US Naval Observatory gives the data to the tenth of a minute, which allows one to interpolate the earliest sunset pretty well. I was really psyched this year, to see the data from Bonaire to the nearest second. Hooray Bonaire.

If you are wondering about the science behind all these musings, check out this brief article at Sky and Telescope. It is talking about summer sunrises, but the underlying principle is the same.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bonaire FM Fundraising Goal Met

Today we received a check for our new FM transmitter project that has allowed us to reach our goal. We might even be able to purchase a 500W transmitter instead of the 300W one we had originally planned on. (Our license allows us up to 500 Watts.)

Here are pictures of the contenders for the new Voice of Hope transmitter.

About 65% of the contributions to the Bonaire FM transmitter project came from our listeners here on Bonaire, and 35% came from friends in North America. A big Thank You to everyone, who prayed about this need or who contributed to this project.
We hope to have the new transmitter here and installed by the end of this year.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bonaire Bike Race

Bonaire Wellness Connexions hosted mountain bike races last weekend. Around 14 or so kids from Curacao came over for the Saturday afternoon kids races in the Yato Baku area. This picture show the 8-9 year old group getting some pre-race instructions from Miguel, from Bonaire Wellness. Frank Bohm, of De Freewieler (pictured below) beat me rather soundly in our Masters Class, and then rode an extra lap around the course. I love this picture of Frank because it really sums up how we all felt at the end of the race. The race loop, set in the hills between Seru Largu and Sabadeco, provides a real workout. One lap after work is fun. A multi lap race wears down the whole body, arms and shoulders as much as the legs.
Here's a shot of me exiting the gnarly single track section at the bottom of the course. There was lots of exposed coral to bounce over in this section.

Miguel has some pictures from the race and the class by class race results posted here, and lots more great pictures here. Links to maps and videos of the awesome race course can be found here.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Blast from the Past

Trans World Radio has been blessed over the years, and is still blessed, with the services of some really brainy engineers.

Ron and Sandy Dick are retired now but were just here with us for two months as volunteers. Ron (on the left) fixed all sorts of things at the Studio and Transmitter sites, and kept a watchful eye on the AM and FM transmitters. Ron and Sandy served on Bonaire with Trans World Radio some twenty years ago and worked on the Short Wave switch-bay project.

While Ron and Sandy were here, Arthur Thompson (on the right) came to Bonaire to visit Pastor Baran and Felecia. Art was here with TWR back in the 1960's when the station was first built. He left Bonaire to help begin the TWR stations in Africa around 1969 or so.

Beam Me Up

The contractor has been busy this week putting up the steel parts of the new International Bible Church of Bonaire building. You can see the white painted beams in the background right in the middle of the panorama below. Check out those clouds. We've had scattered rain showers all week and the sky has been fun to watch. Very different than the usual, and clear, in between the clouds. I can easily see Curacao on my early morning bike rides. Here is a crop from the above picture that shows the steel structure a little more clearly. It is to the lower left of the middle of the picture.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

High Tide

The tides aren't very big here on Bonaire, compared to the South Shore in Massachusetts, where my Aunt and Uncle live, for example. But there is a noticeable difference between the highest high tides of the year and the lowest low tides of the year.

Back when we lived on seaside by the Small Wall dive site, and had a small boat on the "beach," we noticed that the highest water levels were in November each year. We could float our boat over the reef in November. The sea water also spills out of the yacht harbor onto the road at this time of the year. These are some puddles you really don't want to drive through, if you plan on keeping your car for more than a year or so.

The lowest low tides seem to come in the springtime. The fire coral that we could float our boat over in November was all sticking out of the water around Easter. At that time of the year, we also found that the water was too shallow at some spots in the bay at Sorobon to windsurf without dragging one's fin. (Dragging the fin hard enough results in a spectacular crash - don't ask me how I know that!)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Painting Party

The International Bible Church had a painting party a week ago. It was determined that it would be easier to paint the steel work for the new church building before it was assembled. We'll touch up any paint that gets damaged when the structure is erected. In the photo below, which is looking towards the southwest, you can see where the new church building is located with respect to the Maduro & Curiel's bank Hato branch (right behind Pastor Baran) and the brand new Maduro & Curiel's office building (at the left edge of the picture.)
We wire brushed any rusty spots and applied 50/50 primer to the bare metal. Then we rolled on a coat of the same high quality paint that Trans World Radio is using on its radio towers.

There were lots of beams, but we had as many as 20 people working, which allowed us to finish up by around noon.